On January 16th, 2021, almost nine months after the pandemic was declared – India like many countries began its battle against the COVID-19 virus that had taken a toll on its population. To begin with, India began with those most at risk : healthcare sector workers and frontline staff. Official data shows that at least 382 doctors have died on account of the virus and several nurses and other healthcare staff. It was essential to protect those who were caring for the sick first.
On March 1st, the criteria expanded to people over the age of 60 and between 45 to 59, without any prior illnesses. In fact, Prime minister, Narendra Modi, took his first Covexin vaccine shot on March 1st. Setting an example, he has also continuously been encouraging the public to take it as soon as possible.
In India, the Serum Institute in Pune partnered with Oxford University to manufacture their vaccine, Covishield. India’s Bharat Biotech, a biotechnology company headquartered in Hyderabad, is one of the largest pharmaceutical producers of the vaccine in the world. The company had been working on developing this vaccine since the beginning of 2020. Between the two, India has been producing 60% of the world’s vaccines and continues to do so.
So far, India has managed to vaccinate 30 million people with the first dose. One that usually would have taken 10 years to produce. According to The New York Times, over 390.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed globally and have mostly proven to be effective.
India has managed to vaccinate with no hiccups. People are not facing any trouble, waiting in long lines (as is normally the case in India), and attempting to jump the queue. The rollout is proceeding as per plan, and very few medical emergencies have been reported among those who have taken the vaccine. At best, those who have taken the jab have had some pain or mild fever as is common with any vaccinations.
There are several ways to register for the Covid vaccine. India has developed two apps in which people are able to register online. Aarogya Setu was set up by the government to trace Covid cases back in the beginning of the pandemic. The public are now able to sign up for the vaccine on the app and it is available on IOS and Android. The second app is CoWIN which is currently in the pre-product stage.
The number of people registering for the vaccine continues to grow everyday. As it spreads, people’s fears have been allayed and fewer people are beginning to doubt the vaccine and its side effects, and encouraging others to go through with the shots. In fact, many of our own faculty and staff have been vaccinated. Language and literature teacher, Ms Kirsten Pike and her spouse, Mr Tobias were both vaccinated in the United States before returning to India. “We really wanted to get it done before returning to India. It was a smooth and easy process and honestly, a dream come true. I can’t imagine anyone who would say they regret it. I was overjoyed and thankful.”
Even as the vaccine rollout continues, there is one concern : many feel that healthcare workers who have been in the forefront of the COVID battle have not received due attention and credit. The work being done by them is essential yet undervalued and under appreciated. Without them, the casualties and the negative fallouts of the pandemic would be far more severe. Credit where it is due still needs to be given.
Ira Ahuja is the managing editor of The Woodstocker
Edited by Bishalakshmi Bagchi